Los Angeles Area rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the LA Chowhound community.

Upscale Chinese at the Kitchen

An upscale Hong Kong-style restaurant based in the Bay Area, the Kitchen, has extended its reach to Alhambra, reports Chandavkl. He’s dined at the Millbrae original and says it’s one of the best Chinese restaurants up north.

Dim sum is very good and delicate, with some unusual dishes like cheung fun (rice noodle roll) with a crisp-fried exterior. Fish paste with egg white and milk is also a thing of custardy goodness. On opening, the dim sum menu was only in Chinese, but we hear they’re getting menus with English translations. It’s a hybrid ordering system, with dim sum circulating in carts and by order from the menu.

The dinner menu has a lot of innovative items. They’re also open late, till 1 a.m.

Food is kind of pricey–dim sum runs $1.90, $2.80 or $3.80 per order. Almost nothing on the dinner menu is under $10.


The Kitchen [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly NYC Jumbo Seafood
203 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra
626-289-4828
Locater

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Checking out the Kitchen

North Hollywood’s World of Bakeries

North Hollywood has a surprising variety of ethnic bakeries, and Das Ubergeek is your self-appointed guide:

For bolillos, you need to go to Panaderia Las Americas.

For Cuban bread and fantastic pastries, go to Porto’s.

For chorny khleb (Russian-style sour rye black bread) go to Blackjack Market.

For lavash and pita, go to Karabagh Market.

For sourdough, go to Tallyrand Restaurant, but don’t sit in any of the seats if you have clean trousers on…get the sourdough to go.

For standard pastries, go to Belwood Bakery.

For Portuguese pastries, go to Nata’s Pastries.

For Chinese-made cakes, go to Hing Lung Bakery.

For Filipino baked goods (pandesal, etc.) go to Good-Ha or the Seafood City bakery one block north of there.

For baguettes, croissants and wonderful mini-pies, go to La Spaghettata at the Studio City Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings.

If you can make it to Eagle Rock, Eagle Rock Italian Bakery is worth it.

Finally, a bit out of the way but so, so worth it is Berolina Bakery, a Swedish bakery with very, very good pastries and prinsesstarta and outstanding bread.

And for a classic kosher bakery, adds GVDub, go to Continental, where they make wonderful rye (especially onion rye) and pumpernickel as well as excellent rugelach, cookies, strudel, and even some Israeli desserts. Their chocolate babka is fab, adds Das Ubergeek, but for regular babka (non-kosher) go to Olive Marketplace; and for challah, cross the street for Sam’s.


Panaderia Las Americas [East San Fernando Valley]
15047 Roscoe Blvd., Panorama City
818-893-2747
Map

Porto’s Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
3614 W. Magnolia, Hollywood Way, Burbank
818-846-9100
Map

Blackjack Market [East San Fernando Valley]
12643 Sherman Way # G, North Hollywood
818-759-7818
Map

Karabagh Market [East San Fernando Valley]
13747 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys
818-781-4411
Map

Tallyrand Restaurant [East San Fernando Valley]
1700 W. Olive Ave., Reese Place, Burbank
818-846-9904
Map

Belwood Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12634 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
818-755-8853
Map

Nata’s Pastries [East San Fernando Valley]
13317 Ventura Blvd. #D, Sherman Oaks
818-788-8050
Map

Hing Lung Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12634 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
818-755-8853
Map

Manila Good-Ha Fast Food [East San Fernando Valley]
8205 Woodman Ave. # 101, Van Nuys
818-787-1882
Map

Seafood City [East San Fernando Valley]
8231 Woodman Ave., Panorama City
818-988-872
Map

La Spaghettata [East San Fernando Valley]
at the Studio City Farmers’ Market
12001 Ventura Pl., Studio City
818-655-7744
Map

Eagle Rock Italian Bakery [Eagle Rock]
1726 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles
323-255-8224
Map

Berolina Bakery & Pastry Shop [East San Fernando Valley]
3421 Ocean View Blvd., Glendale
818-249-6506
Map

Continental Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12419 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood
818-762-5005
Map

Olive Fresh Garden Marketplace [East San Fernando Valley]
12521 Oxnard St., North Hollywood
818-985-2662
Map

Sam’s Kosher Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
12450 Burbank Blvd. # H, North Hollywood
818-769-8352
Map

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North Hollywood bakeries

Tamale Taste-Off

When a few hounds got together recently for a taste-off of tamales from across L.A., best in show was Mama’s Hot Tamales’ black mole tamale. With rich and complex black mole and moist and flavorful masa, it’s a real tamale role model.

Runners-up included:

La Indiana’s chile and cheese tamale, astounding with good rajas and a ton of gooey cheese, plus great onion and tomato flavor. It blows their dry, dull chicken tamales out of the water. (russkar claims that their best tamales are actually red pork.)

Guatemalteca’s chuchito is a Guatemalan tamale with well-seasoned chicken filling and a startling tomato sauce that seems like it should be on spaghetti, but complements the flavors really well.

La Fiesta Market’s beef tamale is chock-full of meat, and studded with peas and garbanzo beans–probably a regional variation, but hard to say whose.

La Flor de Yucatan’s colado, or Yucatecan tamale, is kind of divisive–the jello-like texture of its strained masa puts some people off, while others love the taste of the fresh tomato and epazote topping.

And Debbie W reports having a chocolate tamale at Babita–the chocolate apparently being mixed into the masa before steaming. Great stuff, says she.


Mama’s Hot Tamales Café [Downtown]
2124 W. 7th St., Los Angeles
213-487-7474
Map

La Indiana Tamales [East LA-ish]
1142 S. Indiana St., Los Angeles
323-262-4682
Map

Guatemalteca Bakery [Koreatown]
4032 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
213-382-9451
Map

La Fiesta Meat Market [South LA]
15020 Hawthorne Blvd., Lawndale
310-263-0463
Map

La Flor De Yucatan Bakery [Downtown]
1800 S. Hoover St., at Washington, Los Angeles
213-748-6090
Map

Babita [San Gabriel Valley]
1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd, South of Valley, San Gabriel
626-288-7265
Map

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The great tamale taste-off

Ramen Champ Santouka Kills ‘Em on the Westside

The new location of Santouka in the West L.A. Mitsuwa is even better than the original location of late, says rameniac–they’re really on top of their game.

Shio ramen is the one to get: rich and flavorful, noodles nice and chewy, with seasoned bamboo and rich, lovely pork. For a little extra, you can get the “special pork”–it’s worth it, says sel. You might also want to order “oomori,” or large bowl, says rameniac–Santouka’s portions are, well, typically Japanese.

The menu is limited for now, with just the shio, soy, miso and spicy miso ramens, and no side dishes. One interesting variation on ramen, though, is tokusen torinaku ramen, where the noodle soup comes with a bunch of toppings, including super-fatty chashu (roast pork), for you to dip in the sauce.

And if you’ve acquired the taste for natto, the traditional and highly divisive dish of fermented soybeans, they’ve got it, says omotosando. A bowl of rice topped with natto and negi is $1.99; you can also get natto and rice with your ramen set.

Regular ramen is $6.49; tokusen torinaku ramen is $9.49.


Santouka Ramen [Beaches]
at Mitsuwa Marketplace
3760 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles
310-398-2113
Map

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Santouka for newbies
Santouka quickie
Natto at Santouka and elsewhere
what to get at Santouka

Enough Cilantro to Choke a Cow

At Peruvian Kitchen, not only can you get the usual ceviche and stir-fries of Lima, you can also get beef or chicken hearts as an appetizer. The thinly sliced beef hearts, marinated in vinegar with garlic and chiles, are delicious, and hardly gamy at all, says Chubbypanda. Texture-wise, it’s almost like biting into a slice of filet–a very tender and yet slightly crunchy filet.

Potatoes a la huancaina, or in the style of Huancayo, the capital of the central highlands, are boiled and smothered in a creamy, spicy cheese sauce spiked with olives and chiles. But yuca a la huancaina ups the ante, with stuffed balls of mashed yuca stuffed with cheese before being boiled and covered with the cheese sauce. It’s like a very refined (but more filling) version of nachos.

Arroz con pollo involves braising tender chunks of chicken with rice, tomatoes, saffron, vegetables and enough chopped cilantro to choke a cow. Each bite fills your mouth with chickeny goodness–the chicken pieces themselves just seem like an extra.

Lomo saltado is stir-fried beef, tomato, and French fries, served over rice. It never fails to satisfy.

Tiradito al aji, a kind of spicy ceviche with chile peppers and ginger, is tasty and surprisingly subtle. You can also get it as an entrée (listed as tiradito mancora).

Snapper ceviche is less successful, though–the pieces of fish are just too big, making them hard to chew, while the marinade is a bit too strong.

And for a lover of starch-on-starch action like Chubbypanda, tacu-tacu can raise some…interesting emotions. “Here’s a platter just disturbingly sexy in a drunken, one-night-stand-with-someone-you-know-is-never-going-to-call-you-back sort of way. At the base is a mound of refried beans and white rice, which have been stir-fried together. That’s right. Together. In a sinfully hedonistic, crispy on the outside, creamy with al dente bits on the inside, patty of delectable, heart-clogging delight. On top of that, a perfectly seasoned and grilled country steak full of juicy and flavorful beefy goodness. To either side, two long halves of fried plantain with their rich, crunchy sweetness. Add one egg, sunny-side up, so that when your fork pieces the delicate yolk, the golden nectar within runs out and over the entire, sensually voluptuous experience.”


Peruvian Kitchen [South OC]
8610 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley
714-847-7555
Map

Board Links

Noshing Peruvian

French Bistro and Bakery Classics Without the ‘Tude

Taste of France stays true to the spirit of the humble neighborhood French eatery, with a menu that’s mostly simple sandwiches plus quiche, crepes, and a few soups. The daily special rotates between rotisserie chicken, tomato-wine chicken, and mustard chicken–classic bistro dishes.

The rotisserie chicken special includes half a small chicken, a mound of parsley mashed potatoes wrapped in a crepe, and a mixed greens and apple salad with nice soft bread. The chicken is perfectly seasoned, crusted with herbs, and incredibly tender and juicy. Split pea soup with ham is warm and unctuous, and in French onion soup, the caramelized onions really shine through. The quiches, with a tender and flaky crust and flavorful, firm custard, are very good–there’s a quiche with thin slices of potato and large pieces of buttery leek, and another with big chunks of ham, thinly sliced potato, and melted cheese.

The family that owns Taste of France also owns a nearby bakery where they source their sandwich bread, baked goods, and desserts.


Taste of France [OC Beaches]
7304 Center Dr., at Gothard, Huntington Beach 92647
714-895-5305
Map

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Neighborhood bistro

Perfect for Winter Chill: Japanese Hot Pot

You can get oden, Japan’s contribution to the hot pot canon, every day at Kushiyaki Dan – it’s hard to find in L.A.–says charliep. As you can tell from the name, their main specialty is grilled things on skewers; there are a few Japanese-Korean dishes too, like natto (fermented soybean) with kimchi.


Kushiyaki Dan [Midtown]
4001 W. Olympic Blvd., Norton, Los Angeles
323-634-9992
Map

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Oden every day

Israelis One-Up the Greeks on Yogurt

If you like Greek yogurt, you’ll probably love the Israeli yogurt at Elat Market. It’s even creamier, and a bit more sour than regular plain yogurt, says arkestra. It comes in fat-free, 1.5% and 3% fat versions. Look for “Danone,” from the Strauss dairy at Elat, an Israeli supermarket. A 6-7 oz container costs almost $2.


Elat Market [Midtown]
8730 W. Pico Blvd., at Robertson, Los Angeles
310-659-7070
Map

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Get your Israeli groceries

Your Own Personal Guacamole Mixmaster

Los Gueros is a bargain delight that offers a fantastic tableside guacamole, says The Oracle.

Their guac has the right amount of everything, and the flavors blend harmoniously. Since it’s made in front of you, you can get it customized (i.e., more or less jalapeno or onion or something). Chips, unfortunately, are sometimes overcooked.

Enchilada with chicken, mushrooms, and spinach in a flour tortilla comes with half green and half red sauce, a side of rice and salad. The enchilada is as huge as a burrito, stuffed with tender chicken chunks and flavorful, juicy mushrooms. Not much spinach in evidence, though. Rice is decent, but salty.

It’s a small space, with red, white and green booths, banda music playing on the speakers and specials handwritten on a board at the entrance. They have some great deals, like 99-cent Corona/Pacifico on Mondays, kids eat free on Tuesdays, 99-cent margaritas on Wednesdays, and 99-cent pina coladas on Thursdays.

The owner also has a hole-in-the-wall sports bar just down the street, adds RoxyGirl. Everyone’s really friendly, and they make mean carne asada tacos you can eat while playing pool.

Get a coupon for free tableside guacamole.


Los Gueros Mexican Restaurant [Pasadena-ish]
313 W. Huntington Dr., at Magnolia, Monrovia
626-358-0200
Map

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Great tableside guac

The Taste of Taiwan in Freshly Made Bao

Diho focuses on one thing: fresh, tasty Taiwanese pastries (steamed buns, dumplings, and cakes), says Chubbypanda. No boba or meal sets at this mom-and-pop Taiwanese bakery in Orange County.

The bao are the real standout. They’re made fresh each morning, and they’re at their very best right out of the steamer. That’s why large crowds gather at the bakery on weekend mornings. The selection of bao is massive.

Their top seller is the pork and vegetable steamed bun (cai rou bao), with ground pork, leeks, ginger, and rice noodles. The pork is juicy without being greasy, the seasonings are well balanced and bold, and the noodles…well, they’re nice to chew on.

Cha shu bao is an unusually good version of this old standby, the BBQ pork bun–not too sweet, juicy instead of dry. Good bun-to-pork ratio, too.

Mushroom bao (xiang gu bao) hold a flavorful mixture of sauteed shiitake mushrooms, ground beef, and onions.

Su cai bao, or vegetable steamed bun, is like a bao version of the best egg roll you’ve ever had. Stuffed with stir-fried shiitakes, cabbage, carrot, garlic, and seasonings, it even tastes healthy without sacrificing any flavor.

As for the breads, the pickled mustard green bun pretty much captures some quintessential flavors: pickled mustard greens and sauteed ground beef. This savory mixture comes enveloped in a light, soft, brioche-like dough.

Raisin bread is mildly sweet and studded with plump, juicy raisins. With a soft crust and thick, fluffy, chewy crumb, it’s like a cross between brioche and pain de mie.

If you really want to try a variety, get a four-in-one bun–four mini buns that are risen next to one another so they meld into one (easily separated) bun when baked. Diho’s has green onion and shredded pork, cha shao (char siu, or BBQ pork), custard, and sweet red bean fillings.


Diho Bakery [South OC]
14130 Culver Dr. # J, at Scottsdale, Irvine
949-857-6415
Map

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Awesome Taiwanese bakery